1. Emotional Intelligence
Emotional intelligence is the ability to understand and manage your emotions so as to communicate effectively, avoid stress, overcome challenges and empathise with others. It’s a skill which is learned over time rather than obtained.
There are four main strands to emotional intelligence: self-awareness, self-management, social awareness and relationship management.
Each of these strands is important in its own way and allows you to communicate confidently with a variety of people.
2. Cohesion and Clarity
Good communication is much more than saying the right thing; it is about communicating messages clearly and concisely.
Before you start a conversation, type an email or begin a discussion, have in mind what the purpose of the communication is and what information you hope to obtain as a result.
Lack of clarity and cohesion can result in poor decisions and confusion.
In any type of communication, make sure that you set the right tone. A friendly tone will encourage others to communicate with you.
Always try to personalise messages, particularly when working with partners or fellow colleagues.
Wishing the recipient a good weekend, for example, is a great way to personalise your message.
In all interactions, confidence (but not over-confidence) is crucial. Demonstrating confidence will give customers faith in your abilities to deliver what they need, and that you will follow through with what you have promised.
Conveying confidence can be something as simple as maintaining eye contact during a conversation, or using a firm but friendly tone when speaking with people over the phone.
Be careful not to come across as aggressive, since this will have the opposite effect of what you are hoping to achieve.
Within a busy work environment, everyone will have their own ideas about how things should be done. Even if you have disagreements with your colleagues or partners, their point of view should be considered and respected.
Empathy is also beneficial when speaking with customers in certain types of customer-facing role.
The goal here is to understand where the other person is coming from – and respect their views even if they are very different from your own.
Empathy leads into the next communication skill, respect.
If you respect the ideas and opinions of others, they will be more likely to communicate with you. Active listening or simply using the name of the person you are speaking to can both be effective.
Make sure that when you type emails, you don’t sound insincere or write in a way that is insincere.
Good communication is all about listening effectively. Take the time to listen to what the other person is saying and practice active listening.
Pay attention to what the other person is saying, ask questions and clarify points, and rephrase what they have said so that you know you have understood correctly.
Try to enter into communications without having an agenda.
Strong communications require an open mind and a commitment to understanding other people’s points of view. If you disagree with the people you are speaking to, try to reach a middle ground that benefits all parties.
Approaching a discussion with an open mind is more likely to result in a successful outcome.
9. Tone of Voice
The tone of your voice can set the whole mood of the conversation. If you start the discussion in an aggressive or unhelpful manner, the recipient will be more inclined to respond in a similar way.
The tone of your voice will include the level of emotion that you use, the volume you use and the level of communication you choose.
The same sentence can have a very different meaning depending on which words are emphasised and the tone of your voice.
In a customer complaint scenario, for example, your tone of voice should be as calm as possible, since an unfriendly tone of voice will only serve to worsen the situation.
10. Asking Good Questions
Good questions can help conversations flow and improve the outcome.
During a conversation, always aim to ask open-ended questions. These are questions with prompts which encourage the recipient to speak about certain points and they require more detailed responses.
If you need further information still, you can use probing questions which request even more information from the recipient such as ‘Tell me the process of…”
During the conversation include a mixture of questions including clarification, ‘what if’ scenarios and open-ended questions to make sure that you achieve what you set out to do at the beginning of the call or conversation.